Old Glory had a record crowd in the stands, with somewhere around 3000 fans, but they had a record defeat on the pitch, losing by 36 points to RUNY. That is worse than the 33-point loss to NOLA last year and has the added sting of essentially ending Old Glory’s playoff hopes. Not the way any of us wanted the match to go, but that’s sports.
New York had this match in hand from the beginning. By the first water break the visitors had scored four tries, earning a bonus point and pretty much sealing up the match with a 24-0 lead. Old Glory did rally themselves towards the end of the half, first pushing over for a try by Stevie Longwell. Two yellow cards in quick succession for RUNY gave Old Glory another shot soon after, which Renata Roberts Te-Nana turned into points.
However, the second half was much like the first. RUNY had chances all over, and mostly managed to convert them. Their scoring was slower, but Old Glory showed no ability to keep them outside the try zone. For their part, OGDC did create scoring opportunities. However, two avoidable knock-ons on otherwise guaranteed tries killed their chances.
In the end, Old Glory lost 46-10. Bad play and frustrating errors made a loss inevitable, and some bad luck made it look even worse on the scoreboard.
1. Old Glory has a depth problem
When we look at the bad losses that Old Glory has had this season, they correlate really well with the number of top player that are on the bench. When Robertson, Hearn, and Fraser were all injured at the same time in the first half of the season, Toronto was able to exploit the youth in the line to the tune of 40 points. Now, with Mungo Mason, Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, Jamie Dever, and Max Lum out, RUNY was able to exploit weak defense around the ruck to punch in 46 points.
This isn’t a coincidence. It’s clear at this point that Old Glory has a key set of players who are instrumental to keeping the team solid on defense. A loss of one or maybe two of them at a time isn’t disastrous, but when two many leave the field it gives good opponents far too many opportunities. That’s always going to be true to some extent, but for OGDC that drop-off is huge right now.
This isn’t a problem that can be solved right away. It may be partially fixed naturally as young players on the roster grow into their roles. A great example of that is Mike Dabulas, who is a noticeably better player today than he was in week one. However, that won’t solve everything, and Old Glory will need to address the fact that they have one of the smallest and shallowest rosters in the league.
2. Old Glory is likely out of the playoff race
With six matches still on the table, Old Glory would need to do incredibly well to make the playoffs. They are 10 points and 3 wins behind RUNY, who hold the second playoff spot in the east. To sneak in, Old Glory would need to win at least three more matches than RUNY. With only six matches left and RUNY looking like a real contender, it would take a crazy twist of fate for OGDC to book a spot.
3. A positive: the fan experience is getting better!
Segra Field is improving with every home match. Every week ahs seen some sort of improvement, this the construction equipment and shipping containers being gradually removed. In their place are expanded food options, a kids’ zone, and a beer garden. It feels like we are slowly making our way towards a complete gameday experience.
In the stands, it felt good to see the stands fill up. Segra was still a long way off of capacity on Sunday, probably in part down to the threatening weather, but it is a vast improvement. Nothing can match the atmosphere of a stadium full of fans.